Everyone is worrying about the Iowa caucuses, but they will be totally inconsequential this year for everyone except possibly Mike Huckabee. The caucuses are on Thursday, January 3rd. A cold day in Iowa. You can't just show up and vote. Only the most politically motivated will be at the caucuses, and then no matter what happens there is a real primary on Tuesday, January 8th in New Hampshire. And who cares about that, when Michigan has a primary on the 15th?
But more important, most California citizens who bother to vote now vote by mail. While election day is February 5th, you can vote by mail in California beginning January 6th. That is before the New Hampshire primary and just after the Iowa beauty contest. Californians favor Clinton and Giuliani.
February 5 is also Super Tuesday, with about 22 states voting (See primary schedule). After Super Tuesday, unless the race is close between front runners, the game is essentially over.
Which means come November you will probably be allowed to choose between the two Candidates from Wall Street, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani is well ahead in the polls in California as well as nationwide; so is Clinton.
Aside from the possibility of heart attacks narrowing the field, it is hard to see any surprises. Things will happen too fast. Even if Barack Obama does well in Iowa, even if he continues to raise a lot of money, it is hard to see him surging. People surge when they look like winners, and Barack looks like a lightweight who wants so badly to be President that he acts like a pile of gelatin next to the beautiful predator Hillary. Think of Hillary as the creature in the Alien movie, no, better still, think of Barack as the creature in the Alien movie (he was cute when he popped out of the corpse of Chicago politics, not unlike Adlai Stevenson), but Hillary is the Sigourney Weaver character, Ellen Ripley, and in the end Barack will feed the vacuum. The corporate ore will get to Earth and Ripley will get her share.
On the Republican side Mike Huckabee is pretty lovable as right-wing populists who like their women barefoot and pregnant go, but a surge in Iowa won't lead him anywhere. Sure, a lot of Republican's don't like the fact that Rudolph did not round up New York City's gay boys and use them for target practice; they don't like his divorces; they don't like his letting women decide for themselves whether to kill their potential babies or not. But those idiots aren't in charge right now. Republicans have two "realistic" choices: Giuliani and Romney. Mitt Romney could have had a chance if he had an honest hair on his head, but instead he decided to lie about his pro-abortion, pro-gay record and pretended to be one of the Southern Baptistas just as they had totally succeeded in discrediting themselves. It isn't that conservative Christian leaders have a big problem with hypocrisy; they just don't like it freshly minted. It needs to be practiced for decades to really get it down.
So, odds are it will be Giuliani versus Clinton come November. The commercial media want to pretend that is not so, because it is so amazingly boring.
One oddball outlier: enough independents will vote for Ron Paul to pull an upset in California. In California, under our odd election rules, independents (called Decline to State here) can vote in the Republican or Democratic primary, but not in the Green Primary. I don't think that will happen, I'll be surprised if Ron Paul hits 10% of the vote, but it is not impossible.
The Green Party has seven people on its primary ballot in California. Ralph Nader will probably win because he has name recognition, but he has declined to campaign or even say if he would accept a nomination if offered. Most activists in the state are getting behind the Cynthia McKinney campaign. If she can top Nader in California she will probably get the nomination. Elaine Brown, former Oakland Black Panther Party leader, will also be on the ballot and may get most of the ultra-left Green votes. California activist Kent Mesplay is a good man but has never held political office and is having trouble getting people to take him seriously. Unknowns Kat Swift, Jesse Johnson and Jared Ball round out the Green ballot.